Mental Health Course for Primary Care Family Nurse Practitioners Public Deposited

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Mental health conditions affect millions of people in the United States and lead to increased disability and death. Primary care providers (PCPs) are often the first clinician that a patient seeks care from, and therefore play an essential role in evaluating, diagnosing, and treating mental health conditions. Providing mental health care in primary care improves public health and reduces health disparities. As most nurse practitioners (NPs) work in primary care and have extensive knowledge and understanding of the complexities of health, NPs are ideally suited to provide mental health care. There is a need for additional mental health education for primary care NPs that focuses on common mental health conditions that are encountered in primary care. There is a scarcity of published research related to mental health education for family nurse practitioners (FNPs). This Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) project presents one method for teaching a mental health course to FNP students, utilizing evidence-based practice. Students’ comfort level and knowledge of mental health care was measured in a pre-test and post-test and analyzed for change. At the end of the course, students reported being more comfortable with screening for, diagnosing, and treating mental health conditions. The mean score on the knowledge post-test was almost 10 percentage points higher than the knowledge pre-test. Primary care NP programs must evolve in order to provide the best possible education for their students to holistically care for each patient’s unique situation and improve overall population health.

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